Also known as the junior welterweight and light welterweight division, the super lightweight class from 135 to 140 lbs has consisted of some excellent boxers over the years. The WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF each has its own champion with Terence Crawford being the reigning WBC and WBO champ and Julius Indongo holding the WBA and IBF versions. Fans will get what everybody wants though, which is just one champion, when Crawford and Indongo square off against each other in a title unification bout on August 19th.
Julio César Chavez may have been the best super lightweight champion in history. He was a two-time champ who defended his title a record 12 straight times during his first reign and then defended it another four times after regaining the belt. There have been several excellent super lightweight titleholders including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto. However, this list features 10 of the division’s best who were stripped of the title for one reason or another.
10. Jessie Vargas
Jessie Vargas of Los Angeles is a two-division world champion since turning pro in 2008. Vargas had a great amateur career at 120-20 and represented Mexico at the 2008 Olympics. The 28-year-old is currently 29-2 as a pro with 10 Kos. Vargas won the IBO and WBA Super Lightweight Titles in April, 2014 via a unanimous decision over Khabib Allakhverdiev. He defended both belts twice against Anton Novikov and Antonio DeMarco. However, he then decided to meet Timothy Bradley in a welterweight bout for the interim WBO Championship. The WBA wanted Vargas to pay the organization $40,000 to allow him to fight at a heavier weight, but Vargas refused to pay the sanctioning fee and some say he technically vacated the title. He lost on points to Bradley, but then won the vacant WBO Title by stopping Sadam Ali in March of 2016. Vargas’ reign lasted just eight months though as Manny Pacquiao beat him by decision. Vargas hasn’t fought since, but should be back in the ring soon.
9. Takeshi Fuji
The first super lightweight champion to be stripped of his title was Takeshi Fuji, who was also known as Paul Fuji. Although he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Fuji fought most of his career in Japan. His professional boxing career was relatively short as he boxed from 1964 to 1970 with a fine record of 34-3-1 with 29 Kos to his name. Fuji won the Lineal, WBA and WBC Super Lightweight titles by knocking out Sandro Lopopolo in the second round in April of 1967. He had a few non-title bouts and defended the WBA and WBC crowns once, but was then stripped of the WBC title for taking on Nicolino Locche in December of 1968 for the WBA belt. Ironically, he was stopped after the 10th round and lost that belt too.
8. Adrien Broner
Cincinnati Ohio’s Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner became the WBA Super Lightweight Champion after Jessie Vargas and he’s won world titles in four different weight divisions. Broner moves up and down in weight like a yo-yo though and it’s hard to keep track of his status. What we know for sure is the 27-year-old has a current record of 33-2 with one no-contest and 24 Kos. He’s also set to meet undefeated WBC Lightweight Champion Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 Kos) in a non-title bout on July 29th in one of the year’s best matchups. Broner has won belts in the junior lightweight, lightweight, super lightweight and welterweight divisions. He’s lost to Shawn Porter and Marcos Maidana, but beaten the likes of John Molina Jr., Emmanuel Taylor, Carlos Molina, Paulie Malignaggi, Antonio DeMarco and Daniel Ponce de Leon. Broner was stripped of his WBA Super Lightweight Title before his fight against Ashley Theophane in April, 2016 for failing to make the 140 lb. weight limit and was also stripped of the WBO Jr. Lightweight Title four years earlier for the same reason.
7. Devon Alexander
Southpaw Devon Alexander of St. Louis is a two-division world champion as he’s won the WBC and IBF Super Lightweight Titles as well as the IBF Welterweight Crown. The 30-year-old is currently 26-4 with 14 Kos, but has lost three of his last four bouts and hasn’t fought since October, 2015. He was an excellent amateur with a record of 300-10 and former national amateur champion. Alexander won the vacant WBC Belt in August, 2009 by stopping Junior Witter. He then won the IBF Title in his next fight when he knocked out Juan Urango. However the IBF stripped Alexander in October, 2010 for refusing to fight their top contender Kaizer Mabuza. He then lost WBA Belt two fights later on points against Timothy Bradley when Alexander couldn’t continue after an accidental head butt. Alexander moved up to welterweight, won the IBF Title in October, 2012, defended it once and then lost it to Shawn Porter.
6. Timothy Bradley
Timothy ‘Desert Storm’ Bradley has been a central figure on this list as he’s beaten fellow list members Jessie Vargas, Devon Alexander and Juan Manuel Marquez. Bradley, of Palm Springs, California, is probably best known for his trilogy against Manny Pacquiao though where he won the first fight controversially and lost the next two. The 33-year-old is currently 33-2-1 as a pro since 2004 with 13 Kos and one no-contest. He’s a five-time world champion with belts won in two weight divisions. Bradley held the WBC Super Lightweight Championship title twice and the WBO Super Lightweight Title once. He’s also won the WBO Welterweight Title a couple of times Bradley doesn’t possess much in the way of power and his chin’s questionable, but has been involved in some thrilling fights in the past. The WBC stripped Bradley of his Super Lightweight Crown in April of 2009 for not fighting Devon Alexander, who was the mandatory challenger. The two would then meet two years later.
5. Kostya Tszyu
Kostya Tszyu was an Australian hero even though he was Russian. Tszyu’s pro career lasted from 1992 to 2005 with most of his bouts coming after he moved Down Under. He was a two-time super welterweight champion as well as the lineal and undisputed boss of the division between 2001 and 2003. Tszyu was an entertaining boxer with good power, like a smaller version of Gennady Golovkin. He won the IBF Championship in 1995 by stopping Jake Rodriguez, defended it five times, but lost in 1997 to Vince Phillips by TKO in his first pro defeat. Tszyu went unbeaten for the following eight years and in 1999 won the vacant WBC Championship by stopping Miguel Angel Gonzalez. He added the WBA version two years later by beating Sharmba Mitchell. The IBF and Lineal Titles were also acquired by stopping Zab Judah as Tszyu became the undisputed king of the division. However, the WBA stripped him of the title in June, 2004 for failing to defend it in the stipulated tine frame because of injury. The WBC also stripped the champ for refusing to face their top contender Gianluca Branco. Tszyu wouldn’t lose again until his final bout in 2005 when Ricky Hatton stopped him after 11 rounds. He retired at 31-2 with 25 Kos and one no-contest. Tszyu took on some excellent opponents such as Judah, Hatton, Julio Cesar Chavez, Livingstone Bramble, Roger Mayweather, Rafael Ruelas and Jesse James Leija.
4. Juan Manuel Marquez
Mexican warrior Juan Manuel Marquez is considered one of that nation’s all-time greats and he’s won world titles in four different weight divisions. The 43-year-old turned pro in 1993 following an excellent amateur career and is currently 56-7-1 with 40 Kos. He’s known for his four fights against Manny Pacquiao which resulted in a win, two losses and a draw. Marquez has won seven world title belts overall in the featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight, and super lightweight divisions. He’s also been a Lineal Lightweight Champ. He’s never been stopped due to his granite jaw and doesn’t mind slugging it out. Marquez has taken on the best of his era, but was stripped of the WBO Super Lightweight Title in January, 2013 for inactivity in the division. Overall, it was the fifth individual title that Marquez has been stripped of in his career. He’s expected to fight at least once more before hanging up his gloves.
3. Aaron Pryor
Like Adrien Broner, the late Aaron ‘The Hawk’ Pryor also hailed from Cincinatti, Ohio. Pryor will always be remembered for his two classic wins against the late, great former world champion Alexis Arguello of Nicaragua. Pryor was a two-time super lightweight champ who fought pro between 1976 and 1990 with a fantastic record of 39-1 with 35 Kos and was also a national amateur champion. He was the WBA belt holder between 1980 and 1983 and held the IBF Championship from 1984 to 1985. Pryor was also the Lineal Champion between 1983 and 1986. The hall of famer’s only loss came to Bobby Joe Young by TKO in 1987. Pryor also managed to defeat former world champ Antonio Cervantes in his career, but other than Cervantes and Arguello, he didn’t really meet the elite of the division. Pryor was stripped of the WBA Title in January, 1984 and of the inaugural IBF Belt in December, 1985 for inactivity.
2. Erik Morales
Erik Morales is another all-time Mexican great who’s won world titles in four separate weight classes. In fact, he was the first Mexican to achieve the feat. He fought from 1993 to 2012 with a record of 52-9 with 36 Kos including wins over 15 world champions. The hall of famer met the best of his divisions including Manny Pacquiao, Marco Antonio Barrera, Danny Garcia, Paulie Ayala, Wayne McCullough and Marcos Maidana. However, eight of his nine career defeats came in his last 13 bouts. Morales won world titles as a super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight and super lightweight. He was stripped of the WBC Super Lightweight Championship in March of 2012 though when he failed to make weight in a bout with Garcia. Morales would also lose the fight by unanimous decision and lost the rematch by KO seven months later in his final bout.
1. Wilfredo Benitez
Wilfredo ‘El Radar’ Benitez will probably always be known for the youngest world professional boxing champion ever at the age of 17 by beating Antonio Cervantes when the teenager was already 25-0. That record will probably never be broken. But the hall of famer, who turned pro at 15, was also one of the best boxers in history and was the first Puerto Rican to win world titles in three different weight divisions. Benitez was a world champ as a super lightweight, welterweight and super welterweight and took on the likes of Carlos Palomino, Antonio Cervantes, Maurice Hope, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Matthew Hilton, Roberto Duran, Davey Moore, Mustafa Hamsho, Bruce Curry and Carlos Santos. Benitez went 53-8-1 as a pro between 1973 and 1990 with four of his losses coming in his last eight contests. After defending it twice, Benitez was stripped of the WBA Super Lightweight Title in November, 1976 for failing to meet Cervantes in a rematch due to injuries suffered in a car crash.